Get Out Review (No Spoilers)

get-out5Today I got the chance to see the new horror film from director Jordan Peele called Get Out. This film has received much praise and currently has a 100% rating on RottenTomatoes.com, which is very rare. I’m not the biggest horror fan, but I like good movies so I decided to give it a shot, and I’m glad I did.

get-outGet Out stars Daniel Kaluuya, as a black man named Chris who is dating a white woman (Allison Williams) named Rose. She is taking him to meet her white parents and he is anxious about any prejudices they might have. She reassures him they are progressives who would vote for Obama a third time (as if that means you aren’t racist!) and they head off.

get-out2Once they arrive, her parents (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) are liberal yuppies just like she’d described but there’s something strange going on…

get-out3I won’t tell you any more so that you won’t be spoiled. Suffice it to say Get Out does a good job weaving together traditional horror tropes with pointed satire about racism and modern white and black fears of each other. It’s something I will definitely want to see again to pick up on all the clues, messaging and moments I missed the first time (my brother was with me and he noticed a lot more than I did).

I must admit it was refreshing for me as a conservative to finally see the parents weren’t rich Republicans but liberal yuppies. Yep, they can be racist too. It was a nice change of pace, and I think made the satire a bit more subtle and biting than it might have been otherwise.

get-out4That’s not to say Get Out is a masterpiece as a 100% might imply. I found the introduction to be pretty slow going and I was beginning to wonder if this was super over-hyped. Then it picks up and becomes very entertaining.

My only other caveat is it’s not that scary. If you are expecting a horror movie that makes you jump and gives you nightmares this isn’t it. It is pretty bloody but everything that happens is a bit over the top (hence it being a satire). In general, horror movies that are very realistic are the scariest for me. For example, Norman Bates in Psycho feels like a real man who could be working at a dumpy hotel and everything he does is fairly pedestrian like how he kills, buries the car etc .Things that happen in Get Out are not realistic in that way. (I hope that is cryptic enough for you!)

I think there are a couple places they could have made it a little more realistic and not sacrificed humor and made it scarier but it’s nitpicking. You kind of have to go with it and for the most part I did.

As far as content it can be bloody and there is some strong language to be aware of. Probably for mature teens and adults only.

Overall Grade- B+

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Rock Dog Review

This weekend an animated film is being released by way of China called Rock Dog. I did a review on my youtube channel I’d love if you checked out:

It’s not as bad as the trailers and posters make it look. In fact, the parts with music were engaging and some of the animation is pretty good. They also got a good voice talent and there is a nice message to the film. However, a subplot involving wolves plotting revenge is very boring. I kept wishing they would get back to the music.

Still, not a terrible movie by any means. I wouldn’t spend the big bucks at the theater but if you have a discount theater or can find it on dvd than it’s a decent watch for families.

Overall Grade C

Lion Review

lion3Tonight I had the chance to see the Oscar nominated film Lion again and I loved it all over again. After I finished it occurred to me I never actually reviewed the film on my blog or channel. I got sick right around when I saw it and somehow it just never got done. It’s a shame because Lion is absolutely one of my favorite movies of 2016 (made my top 10 of the year) and a film you should check out while it is still in theaters.

lion-sunny-pawarYou can kind of divide Lion into 2 parts. The first part is about a little boy named Saroo (Sunny Pawar) lives with his Mother and family (particularly his brother Guddu) in a secluded village in India.

One day while waiting for Guddu to finish work he wanders onto a train and ends up days away from his family with no way to communicate who they are or where he is from. He then becomes one of the many lost children of India and these scenes are the most powerful of the movie.

One scene in particular moved me when he is treated kindly by someone but must realize just in the nick of time they have ulterior motives. When he runs away I wanted to cheer him on! All of these scenes are so well filmed by first time director Garth Davis. You feel the panic of the crowds and the confusion of little Saroo.

lion5Sunny Pawar is also phenomenal as Saroo. If he had gotten nominated over Dev Patel I wouldn’t have complained. He’s that great in the role.

Eventually he gets the opportunity to be adopted by a family in Tasmania played by David Wenham and Nicole Kidman. The scenes where he and his brother are assimilated into their new family are handled so beautifully. I think anyone who has experienced adoption will respond to their authenticity and raw emotional power.  Nicole Kidman is especially great as the mother who chose adoption as an opportunity to love more.

lion6Next we get to the second part of the film where Saroo is Dev Patel and he is a grown man starting hospitality training. While there he learns about Google Earth and begins a hunt to find his family in India.

Dev Patel is great as the adult Saroo (and very hunky I must say) and the screenplay does a wonderful job showing the ache a lost child might feel as a grown up. He yearns to reassure his brother and Mother that he is ok. At first his efforts are fruitless and he becomes kind of obsessed with it.

The whole time he is searching he worries his Mother and Father might see this as a betrayal, or that he is ungrateful for all they have done. I thought this was handled with such subtlety- capturing the feelings of many adopted children without sensationalizing or making adoption the enemy (I really believe in adoption advocacy if you didn’t know).

lion2The one part that doesn’t work that well in this section is Saroo’s relationship with Lucy played by Rooney Mara. They just didn’t have great chemistry and she felt extraneous to the core plot. But it is really my only big flaw with the film.

When I first saw Lion I loved it and have been surprised to hear some call it “Oscar bait”. I hate this term as I feel it is a way of criticizing films with ambition.  It’s similar to those who criticize the smart girl in class for studying too hard. Even if you use the term, I don’t think Lion qualifies. It’s just a movie with a great story, performances, cinematography, music and script. It’s the total package. Both times I’ve seen it I was completely absorbed and emotionally moved.

The fact it is a true story makes it even better. Rarely in Hollywood do we get a movie about genuinely good people who aren’t addicts or abusers. This is none of that. Both the family in India and Tasmania are good people that face challenges I could relate and empathize with. I thought it was all handled so beautifully that I can’t wait to own Lion on blu-ray.

Once again, I can’t believe this is Garth Davis’ first movie. What a tremendous accomplishment! I can’t wait to see what else he makes in his career.

If you want to see a movie about the triumph of a family, a beautiful soul and an incredible story watch Lion. It’s so good. I LOVED it!

Overall Grade- A (not A+ just because of the girlfriend part  but I loved this movie).

Oscar Predictions and New Blog Series Poll

86th Annual Academy Awards - Red CarpetHey guys! So the Oscars are coming up next week and so I thought I would share my predictions and what I would pick if it was left up to just me. I don’t plan on watching this year because I think all of the political speeches will be completely insufferable and I don’t think Jimmy Kimmel is funny. I’ll just find out winners online.

Also, I realized I haven’t done a series on this blog for a long time. I was so overwhelmed with my Disney Canon Project over on my youtube channel last year that aside from the monthly blindspot picks I let that slide. I want to make sure to always provide content for both my channel and blog, so I am interested in doing another series. I have a poll so please vote on what you would like me to write about:

Anyway, here are my predictions/picks. Also I warn you I am notoriously awful at this. I have seen almost everything except for no documentary shorts, Elle and a couple docs/foreign films.

Best Picture- Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Lion, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight

Winner- La La Land. My Pick- Hacksaw Ridge

Best Director- Denis Villeneuve (Arrival), Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge), Damien Chazelle (La La Land), Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea), Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)

Winner- Damien Chazelle (La La Land). My Pick- Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge)

Best Actor- Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea), Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge), Ryan Gosling (La La Land), Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic), Denzel Washington (Fences)

Winner- Denzel Washington (Fences), My Pick- Denzel Washington (Fences)

Best Actress- Isabelle Huppert (Elle), Ruth Negga (Loving), Natalie Portman (Jackie), Emma Stone (La La Land), Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)

Winner- Isabelle Huppert (Elle), My Pick- Ruth Negga (Loving)  (I have not seen Elle but my gut tells me they will go with the veteran who had 2 critically lauded films this year)

Best Supporting Actor- Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), Jeff Bridges in (Hell or High Water), Lucas Hedges ((Manchester by the Sea)), Dev Patel (Lion), Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals)

Winner- Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), My Pick- Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water)

Best Supporting Actress- Viola Davis (Fences), Naomie Harris (Moonlight), Nicole Kidman (Lion), Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures), Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)

Winner- Viola Davis (Fences), My Pick- Viola Davis (Fences)

Best Original Screenplay- Hell or High Water, La La Land, The Lobster, Manchester by the Sea, 20th Century Women

I have not seen 20th Century Women.

Winner- Manchester by the Sea (please, please, please. La La Land does not deserve best screenplay!) My Pick- Hell or High Water

Best Adapted Screenplay- Arrival, Fences, Hidden Figures, Lion, Moonlight,

Winner- Moonlight, My Pick- Moonlight 

Best Animated Film- Kubo and the Two Strings, Moana, My Life as a Zucchini, The Red Turtle, Zootopia

Winner- Zootopia, My Pick- Moana

Best Foreign Language Film- Land of Mine, A Man Called Ove, The Salesman, Tanna, Toni Erdmann

Winner- Toni Erdmann, My Pick- (Only one I’ve seen) A Man Called Ove

Best Documentary- Fire at Sea, I Am Not Your Negro, Life Animated, OJ Made in America, 13th

I haven’t seen Fire at Sea but seen the rest.

Winner- OJ Made in America, My Pick- Life Animated

Documentary Shorts- Extremis, 4.1 Miles, Joe’s Violin, Watani: My Homeland, The White Helmets

I haven’t seen any of these shorts but the one I hear the most buzz about is Joe’s Violin

Live Action Short- Ennemis interieurs, La Femme et le TGV, Silent Nights, Sing, Timecode

Winner- Silent Nights, My Pick- Sing

Animated Short- Blind Vaysha, Borrowed Time, Pear Cider and Cigarettes, Pearl, Piper

Winner- Pearl, My Pick- Piper

Best Score- Jackie, La La Land, Lion, Moonlight, Passengers

Winner- La La Land, My Pick- Moonlight

Best Original Song- Audition (La La Land), Can’t Stop the Feeling (Trolls), City of Stars (La La Land), Empty Chair (Jim: The James Foley Story), How Far I’ll Go (Moana)

Winner- City of Stars (La La Land), My Pick- How Far I’ll Go (Moana)

Best Sound Editing- Arrival, Deepwater Horizon, Hacksaw Ridge, La La Land, Sully

Winner- Hacksaw Ridge, My Pick- Hacksaw Ridge

Best Sound Mixing- Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, La La Land, Rogue One, 13 Hours

Winner- Hacksaw Ridge, My Pick- 13 Hours

Production Design- Arrival, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Hail Caesar, La La Land, Passengers

Winner- La La Land, My Pick- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Best Cinematography- Arrival, La La Land, Lion, Moonlight, Silence

Winner- La La Land, My Pick- Lion

Make Up- A Man Called Ove, Star Trek Beyond, Suicide Squad

Winner- Star Trek Beyond, My Pick- Star Trek Beyond

Costume Design- Allied, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Florence Foster Jenkins, Jackie, La La Land

Winner- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, My Pick- Florence Foster Jenkins

Best Film Editing- Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, La La Land, Moonlight

Winner- La La Land, My Pick- Hacksaw Ridge

Visual Effects- Deepwater Horizon, Doctor Strange, Rogue One, Jungle Book, Kubo and the 2 Strings

Winner- Jungle Book, My Pick- Jungle Book

So there you have it! Hope you enjoy my predictions. What do you think of them? And thanks for voting in the poll

Great Wall Review

great-wall2The B movie is a tricky thing. The name came when people used to go see double headers. One film would be a big budget more serious movie and the 2nd or B movie would be a lower budget more campy film like a low grade monster or cowboy movie. While The Great Wall has a large budget ($150 million but it has already made $224 million in China) it has the feel of a B movie and I think it is enjoyable on that level. It’s not a great movie but B movies never were. They were just silly, over-the-top movie going experiences.

In truth, The Great Wall is a monster movie (again in the spirit of B movies). It is directed by Zhang Yimou who received an Oscar nomination for the 2002 film Hero and is famous for directing House of Flying Daggers. In The Great Wall he puts down martial arts entirely and makes, like I said, a monster movie.

great-wallMatt Damon is admittedly wildly miscast in the lead role with a wandering Irish (I think) accent (It’s the kind of role Arnold or Stallone would have played in their hey-days). But he plays William, a man who has journeyed to China to find ‘black powder’. He and his buddy Tovar (Pedro Pascal who has a different accent that is never explained) are attacked one day by a mysterious monster with green blood. They take the hand of the monster and present before a castle at the Great Wall of China. The wall is ruled by an army called the Nameless Order who are skilled fighters including Zhang Hanyu, Andy Lau and Jing Tian.

the-great-wall-11It turns out the order is preparing to face off against the monster that William beat. They are kind of like zombies or orcs and there are a lot of them and they don’t shy away from the non-bloody PG-13 killing and warfare. The 3D is very effective in these scenes with arrows flying at your face and monsters coming towards you. It really is a lot of fun.

great-wall3They also have clever warfare strategies like women hanging on ropes and swinging with their bow and arrows. A lot of people are going to be concerned if this is a white savior film and it has its moments for sure but it wasn’t as bad in that regard as I thought it would be.  For the most part the Chinese are equally great at fighting monsters as Damon. I also appreciated that there isn’t really a love interest. It’s hinted at but never really materialized. The women are there to fight monsters just like everyone else.

Is this movie cheesy? Of course it is but that’s part of the B movie fun of it. The dialogue is campy and the action is over-the-top.  There were some boring sections and the William Defoe character is completely unnecessary but I think if you go in with the right attitude you can enjoy The Great Wall. It’s not a great movie by any stretch of the imagination but in the spirit of B movies it’s an entertaining movie. It’s certainly a million times better than the ponderous tombs we got last year in films like Warcraft.

If you decide to give The Great Wall a shot let me know what you think. See this in the theaters because I don’t think it will be as fun at home.

Overall Grade- C+

Lego Podcast and Happy Valentines Day!

Hey guys! Quick post today but just wanted to wish you all a Happy Valentines Day.  Each year I create a custom valentine to make the holiday a little bit more fun. My friend Joan at Bitsy Creations does the design work but it is my concept.  I hope you all have a wonderful day and feel loved!

valentine-2017I also got to do a podcast today with my friend Eli on both The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie. We had a lot of fun talking about both films and would love your thoughts on what we have to say.

2016 Rachies Awards

Well, my friends, the Oscars are coming up and most likely they will get a few things right but most things wrong. I don’t know if I’m even going to watch this year because the political speeches are going to be so obnoxious. Instead, I would like to point you to a much better annual awards offering- the Rachies. Yes, for the last 3 years I have given my nominations and winners for the best of the year. I include all the categories from the Oscars but then offer a few of my own into the mix. So, sit back and enjoy the 2016 Rachies Awards!

Best Animated Film-

your-name-2Moana

Your Name

The Red Turtle

Zootopia

Kubo and the Two Strings

Best Live Action Film-

sing-streetHacksaw Ridge

Sing Street

Love and Friendship

Lion

Things to Come

Best Directing-

lion-sunny-pawar

Mel Gibson- Hacksaw Ridge

Barry Jenkins- Moonlight

Ron Clements and John Musker- Moana

David Mackenzie- Hell or High Water

Garth Davis- Lion

Makoto Shinkai- Your Name

Most Underrated/Underseen

april2

Presenting Princess Shaw

Tower

April and the Extraordinary World

Ethel and Ernest

London Road

Best Animated Short

piper disney pixar finalFoxed

Piper

Inner Workings

Borrowed Time

Pearl

Best Actress in Leading Role

fences-movie35

Isabelle Huppert- Things to Come

Kate Beckinsale- Love and Friendship

Viola Davis- Fences

Ruth Negga- Loving

Rebecca Hall- Christine

Best Actor in Leading Role

sullyCasey Affleck- Manchester By the Sea

Tom Hanks- Sully

Denzel Washington- Fences

Taron Egerton- Eddie the Eagle

Rolf Lassgard- A Man Called Ove

Best Supporting Actress-queen-of-katwe-scene

Chloe Sevigny- Love and Friendship

Nicole Kidman- Lion

Taraji P Henson- Hidden Figures

Lupita Nyong’o- Queen of Katwe

Michelle Williams- Manchester by the Sea

Best Supporting Actorjack-reynor

Ashton Sanders- Moonlight

Jack Reynor- Sing Street

Tom Bennett- Love and Friendship

John Goodman- 10 Cloverfield Lane

Chris Pine- Hell or High Water

Best Ensemble Filmhacksaw-ridge-ensemble

Hidden Figures

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Captain America: Civil War

Everybody Wants Some

Best Voice Actingzootopia100

Auli’i Cravalho and The Rock- Moana

Jim Broadbent and Blenda Blethyn- Ethel and Ernest

Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman- Zootopia

Ellen Degeneres- Finding Dory

Art Parkinson- Kubo and the Two Strings

Best Production Designallied2

Rogue One

Allied

Passengers

La La Land

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Best Visual EffectsTHE JUNGLE BOOK

A Monster Calls

Pete’s Dragon

Jungle Book

Doctor Strange

The BFG

Best Documentary

tower2

Presenting Princess Shaw

Tower

Life, Animated

OJ Made in America

The Eagle Huntress

Best Costumesdressmaker6

Florence Foster Jenkins

Love and Friendship

The Dressmaker

Cafe Society

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Best Makeup and Hairjackie2

Star Trek Beyond

The Dressmaker

Jackie

Nocturnal Animals

Allied

Best Editinghacksaw-ridge-poster-part

13 Hours

The Shallows

Hacksaw Ridge

Nocturnal Animals

Hell or High Water

Best Cinematographyhunt-for-wilderpeople

Lion

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Knight of Cups

La La Land

Pete’s Dragon

Best Original Score

La La Land

Moana

The Red Turtle

Your Name

Moonlight

Best Original Song

How Far I’ll Go- Moana

You’re Welcome- Moana

Drive it Like You Stole It- Sing Street

Up- Sing Street

Sparkle- Your Name

Best Original Screenplayhell-or-highwater

Things to Come

Sing Street

Hell or High Water

Everybody Wants Some

Manchester By the Sea

Your Name

Best Adapted Screenplaylove and friendship2

Lion

Fences

Moonlight

Love and Friendship

Queen of Katwe

Best Sound Design and Mixing

13-hoursRogue One

Hacksaw Ridge

13 Hours

Patriot’s Day

Allied

Biggest Surprise

10_cloverfield_lane_paramount_winstead-0-0Hell or High Water

10 Cloverfield Lane

Pete’s Dragon

Hidden Figures

Bridget Jones Baby

So that is my Rachies Awards!  I hope you enjoyed them. Please let me know what you think in the comments section and check out some of these movies if you haven’t had a chance!

Lego Batman Movie Review

lego-batman-logoBack in 2014 there was a surprise little movie that took the world by storm called The Lego Movie. Going into it I thought it would be a pun-filled toy movie but it actually was a visually gorgeous, funny, heartfelt treatise on the way children play and think. The Lego Movie showed the randomness of a child’s brain and it had an emotional story between a father and a son that nobody was expecting. It was also so beautiful the way everything flowed like a world of legos really would. In my opinion, The Lego Movie is one of the best animated films of the last 5 years.

So, it was with great anticipation that I went to see the spin-off film The Lego Batman Movie today. The trailers have been hilarious and as I am not the biggest Batman fan I was looking forward to seeing everyone else’s sacred franchise taken down a few pegs. And the result?  While I do not think it is as good as The Lego Movie, it is still an entertaining spoof comedy movie that I think any animation or comic book movie fan will enjoy.

lego-batman5The best thing about Lego Batman Movie is the pacing. The jokes start literally before the WB logo and they never stop. This version of Batman is dry, sarcastic and lonely. Most of the movie is various characters like Robin, Barbara Gordon and Alfred trying to get through to him and make him lower his pride to admit he needs help. Robin voiced by Michael Cera is Bruce Wayne’s ward Dick Grayson and is energetic and clingy. Of course, this rubs Batman the wrong way!

lego-batman4But the main thrust of the film is from Zach Galifianakis’ Joker who is upset with Batman because he won’t admit they are arch-rivals and need each other. You get some especially good jokes about Batman v Superman and other Batman versions within the interactions with Joker.

legobatman2The jokes come quick in Lego Batman Movie and Will Arnett is amazing in the role but they also pack in quite a bit of story into the 104 minute run time. There’s a lot of action and literally every Warner Bros character I could think of.

The animation was also bright and colorful and a lot of fun to watch. The only problem is it lacked the flow of legos that we had in the Lego Movie. When Emmet in Lego Movie would dive into water the waves looked like legos. You don’t really get that here. I guess that’s fine because it is a comic book world where Lego Movie was more of a fantasy world, but I was more dazzled by Lego Movie’s animation.

lego-batman3Also, there’s something about The Lego Movie that felt more memorable. Maybe it’s partly me not being that big of a Batman fan. It felt enjoyable but not something that will stick with me for years to come like Lego Movie did. It’s more of a solid entertaining animated comedy rather than a game changer.

But those are a small criticisms to a very good film. Your entire family will like it and it was certainly nice to see something self-aware and humorous from the world of comic book films and DC.

If you see it let me know what you think. How does it compare with Lego Movie to you?

Overall Grade- B+